Do's & Don'ts for brands on Instagram

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'They love us. They love us not.'

Times have sure changed from childhood years spentpulling daisy petals to determine if someone likes you. These days followers wear their hearts loud and proud with public declarations of love right on Instagram.

In fact, Wordstream report that that little heart ‘like’ button on Instagram gets pushed 2.5 million times per day. And it’s not just selfies and plates of sushi attracting all the attention. Brands are attracting a huge share of the love too – when they get it right!

Confused about what to do. Here’s our handy little guide to ensure your heart lights up; the Do's and Don'ts for brands on Instagram!


Who’s using it?

First and foremost, when advertising, you need to be where your audience is. Currently, Instagram followers fall largely into the millennial 18 – 34 year old bracket with a BI Intelligence study finding “the app is skewed towards urban, youthful women”.

However, Wordstream suggest that shouldn’t be a reason to look elsewhere if your target doesn’t fit this demographic. Citing Facebook’s trajectory, they reason:

“If that isn’t the audience you’re targeting, you still should not dismiss the social network as a useless opportunity, because almost every male I know is on Instagram, and I would predict that each year more and more adults over 34 will be hopping on the Instagram bandwagon… As most of you are aware Facebook started at Harvard, branched out slowly to other ivy leagues, colleges across the country, and now has a wide international presence and includes demographics of every age, gender, race, etc. (I’d be willing to bet that your parents are on Facebook).”

Watch this space…

What are they looking for?

We’ve spoken before of the great social media irony, that as technology can seem to tear us from the people in our lives, we feel a deep yearning to connect and form a community with people who exist only virtually to us.

As Hubspot explains, this is something that Instagram excels at:

“Over the last 4+ years, Instagram has gone from a social network known for selfies and food pics to a platform brands are leveraging to deliver meaningful messages, tell stories, and engage with people on a human to human level. We’ll continue to hear about, read about, speak about, and experience firsthand the opportunity Instagram presents to brands and marketers as network continues to grow.”

Largely people turn to Instagram to share and to feel inspired; dare we say they even turn to Instagram to be reminded of the beauty that exists in the world. Indeed Instagram themselves recommend that you post photos “of beautiful and unexpected moments that also feel authentic and immediate“. That may seem a far stretch for a brand looking to secure conversions, but it’s something even energy companies have achieved, sharing pictures of their wind turbines at sunset. After all, everyone loves a sunset! Especially a sunset captured through a Valencia, Lo Fi or X-Pro II filter.

Social Media Examiner suggest balancing fun images with pictures from your business, something that  Anthropologie are very good at. It can also pay to partner with good causes that share your brand values. Philanthropy is hot - just look at Prince Harry.

Don’t forget your fans either. The advice from Wishpond is to “make them famous.” Their tactics to achieve this include:

  • Sharing your followers’ photos;
  • Acknowledging and thanking them publically – engagement is the cornerstone of social media and flattery always goes a long way;
  • Inviting them to fill in the blanks or caption your photos – often with a prize for the best response!

On this point Social Media Examiner recommend offering your followers something exclusive as a reward for being so loyal – maybe a preview of your latest recipe (hungry much?). After all, who doesn’t love to feel a little special?

What will turn them off?

If you oversell and overdo it, chances are your followers are going to be over you.

Obviously, as a brand you’ll be using Instagram as a means to increase brand awareness and secure promotions. You’ll want to promote your Instagram across your social media networks. But what you don’t want to be doing is bombarding your followers with lengthy and constant posts. As Carley Keenan told Social Media Examiner

“You don’t need to post on Instagram every day. The ‘feed speed’ on Instagram is still mostly laid back. If you start posting a lot, you might saturate your followers’ feeds, and you don’t want to force yourself into the noise too often. Decide what you have ready to post and create a schedule to help you remember what to post when and to track what is working once you get going.”

Another point is to not force the sales aspect. Sure, you will want to let customers know about special offers from time to time, but that’s not the reason they’re following you on Instagram. Remember the real value you’re providing here is inspiration and lifestyle; Whole Foods are a perfect example with their active and healthy living focus.

What will turn Instagram off?

This is a really important one. Instagram are focused on organic growth, so even if you’re struggling for numbers initially never, and we repeat, never buy followers. As Hubspot emphasise:

“If you don’t want to spend the time building your following organically, Instagram is likely a waste of your time to begin with. If you need another reason not to purchase followers and/or engagement, the network is cracking down on fake and spam accounts, and they’re taking them out in massive numbers.”

But how will they find you?

If you’re a startup and not quite at the stage where people are purposefully seeking you out, you need to embrace the all-important hashtag to secure new fans. If you’re posting about opening a new outlet in Kuala Lumpur cover your bases by incorporating #kl #kualalumpur into your post. Chances are someone scanning that hashtag may just find you and fall in love with you – a win on the old daisy game!

Additional to jumping on existing bandwagons, you can use hashtags to establish your brand’s identity. If you’re selling active wear create an actionable hashtag that will encourage people to post their own workout photos. For instance, the #chooseyourwinter campaign was huge boon for Nike.


We’re not suggesting you shout your fans a sushi delivery (though, come to think of it, all that talk of active wear left us feeling a little hungry). We just wanted to leave you with a concise list of tips to make your Instagram journey that little bit easier:

  • Create a schedule and goals;
  • Use trending hashtags to draw attention to your brand, but complement them with taglines that reinforce your brand culture;
  • Share inspiring and beautiful photos, as well as photos that show the inner workings of your business – it’s a human network after all;
  • Partner with good causes that share your brand values;
  • Keep it interesting – mix up your filters and also throw in some #nofilter piccies too;
  • Celebrate your followers by engaging with them – follow back and feature their awesome photos on your page;
  • Gain attention through caption competitions;
  • Don’t force the selling aspect. Be natural and let your product and brand sell itself. Though an occasional promotion won’t go astray!
  • Don’t post so frequently as to annoy people. To that end, vary your post lengths. Your photos don’t need to be accompanied by an essay.

With these tips, you won’t need a daisy to tell you that your followers love you!

On the side, if you are would like to know more about tips and tricks for Influencer Marketing, head on to our blog archive as we have more juicy information for you.

Else, if you are interested in starting your Instagram Marketing, visit us today at to find out more!

Brought to you with love and hugs -